Government, funders and large charities must take urgent action if small charities are to survive turbulent times ahead according to new analysis published by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales.
Facing Forward presents a candid analysis of the ten-upcoming political, economic, social and technological changes which will dramatically affect the operating landscape for the 65,000 small and medium charities working at the heart of communities across England and Wales.
With the impact of Brexit, economic uncertainty and growing pressures on local government adding unprecedented uncertainty for their futures, the analysis offers small charities a robust framework of how they can take action and adapt by diversifying their income, developing collaborations and sustaining their staff, before it’s too late.
The report also calls for clear and decisive action from other stakeholders whose actions influence the survival of small charities:
- National and local government must use appropriate commissioning processes when securing public services
- Funders must fund charities to build their capacity and effectiveness rather than constantly seeking innovation
- Larger charities must seek to collaborate with small charities rather than compete against them for public service contracts
Aimed at the pressured, time poor CEO or Trustee of any small to medium sized charity, Facing Forward makes for essential reading for those charities battling on the frontline of public service delivery. It paints an alarming picture of a future with small charities closing and communities losing vital support at a time of growing need, if charities themselves and other stakeholders do not take action.
The message is clear – change is happening and the survival of small charities depends on their ability to prepare for the future and the support they need from others.
Discussing technology developments, the report’s authors say that the digital divide is likely to become larger for those that miss out on the benefits that new technology can bring, from lower prices to reduced isolation.
“Already, smaller charities describe their clients struggling with job opportunities, public services and Universal Credit moving online – this type of demand for digital help will only continue. Charities have a role to play in helping people navigate this new world – but they face their own barriers as well.
“As New Philanthropy Capital’s Tech for Common Good report highlighted, the costs of investing in digital are often prohibitive for individual organisations: collective investment will be needed to realise the benefits for the sector. Yet if we wait, smaller charities face the risk of being outpaced by larger, more digitally savvy organisations, potentially leaving their communities less well-served than before.”
Plan of action
In response to the analysis, Lloyds Bank Foundation sets out a clear plan of action of how it can better support small charities through the turbulent times ahead:
- Providing greater financial stability for small charities – In recognition of the growing struggle charities face raising income, the Foundation is offering some charities it funds, a further three years funding with no new grant application processes, enabling charities to focus their efforts on supporting people in need.
- Influencing the policy and operating environment for small charities – A new £100,000 investment in the Small Charities Coalition, to fund its policy and engagement work so the concerns and views of small charities can be better advocated for and represented in policy discussions with Government.
- Evidencing the social and economic value of small charities: A new independent study by respected researchers from Sheffield Hallam University, IVAR and Open University will seek to uncover robust evidence about the distinctive value small charities offer to individuals, communities and the taxpayer to help make a stronger case for support.
Commenting on the analysis, Paul Streets, Chief Executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales said: “For many small and local charities, issues like Brexit and the changing political landscape can be difficult to plan for if you’re facing a constant battle to deliver essential public services, with ever dwindling resources.
“Charities want to be prepared and we hope Facing Forward helps them face up to the hurricane of change heading their way and plan a way forward, but the responsibility doesn’t end there. We’re doing our bit by improving our grant making and continuing to lobby for change, but Government, other funders and larger charities must also set out how they will support small charities through the tough times ahead.
“The future of too many essential public services and charities working at the heart of local communities is at risk if we don’t collectively act now.”
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